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Cold Comfort: An Influenza Timeline

March 1918: First flu case is reported at Camp Funston in Kansas. In three weeks, over 1,100 of 56,000 troops are admitted to the hospital and 38 of them die.

June 25, 1918: An Army training detachment of 272 men is posted at Dartmouth College.

July 1918: Public health officials in Philadelphia warn of the "Spanish influenza."

August 27, 1918: Sailors in Boston report to sick bay with cold symptoms. By August 30, 60 have the flu.

September 1918: Flu explodes among the 45,000 men at Camp Devens near Boston. On a single day, 1,543 fall ill. On September 22, 19.6% of the camp is on sick report, almost 75% of them hospitalized.

Mid-September 1918: New Hampshire Governor Henry Keyes falls ill with the flu; he eventually recovers.

September 18, 1918: Flu epidemic begins at Mary Hitchcock Hospital, which gets so crowded that beds are placed in corridors and sunrooms. Nursing classes are postponed until November, but few cases develop in nurses and none in patients admitted for other reasons.

September 21, 1918: The first Dartmouth student—George Conant, DC '22—dies of influenza.

September 25, 1918: There are over 100 cases of flu in the training detachment at Dartmouth.

Military drills on the Green: a common sight.

September 26, 1918: Dartmouth political science professor Eldon Evans, age 30, dies of the flu.

Late September-early October 1918: Dartmouth chapel services are suspended and Dartmouth Night festivities postponed; Hanover's Nugget movie theater closes; area schools and churches close.

September 28, 1918: Theodore Wadleigh, DC '22, dies.

September 29, 1918: Harold Mooney, DC '22, dies.

October 1, 1918: Student Army Training Corps (SATC) unit at Dartmouth inducts 695 students. Fraternities are closed and fraternity meetings are forbidden.

October 1-13, 1918: Dartmouth classes are suspended. The only activity is SATC drilling, which keeps students outside for at least nine hours a day.

October 5, 1918: Richard Campbell, DC '21, dies.

October 7, 1918: The student newspaper, The Dartmouth, reports a student death toll of four, "mark[ing] the climax at Dartmouth in the course of the Spanish influenza, which has been sweeping the country. The medical authorities have the disease well under control, as is shown by the fact that there have been no new cases recorded within the last six days."

Influenza became headline news on campus.

October 9, 1918: Spencer Slawson, DC '21, dies.

Week of October 7, 1918: The Nugget Theater and area schools reopen.

October 14, 1918: Classes resume at Dartmouth.

October 17, 1918: The Hanover Gazette reports that the flu seems to be on the wane locally.

October 20, 1918: Area churches reopen.

October 31, 1918: The Hanover Gazette reports that the epidemic has ended in Concord and other parts of the state. Concord had 1,000 cases of flu and 165 deaths. October 1918 ends up being the deadliest month in the history of the United States, with 195,000 Americans succumbing to influenza.

November 11, 1918: World War I ends. Dartmouth calls classes off at 10:00 a.m. More than 500 cars parade around the campus in celebration.

December 12, 1918: The Hanover Gazette reports that the U.S. Public Health Service warns tuberculosis might be on the rise as a result of the flu.

January 10, 1919: Dartmouth Night, originally scheduled for October 13, 1918, takes place.

Spring 1919: Several severe cases of influenza appear at the Mary Hitchcock School of Nursing and Mary Hitchcock Hospital, among nurses and other workers.

The nursing staff was stricken in the spring.

Fall 1919: Dartmouth College is free of influenza and there are practically no cases in New Hampshire.

1927: It's estimated that 21.5 million people died worldwide during the 1918 epidemic.

1991: Researchers revise their estimate and report that 30 million people died of the 1918 flu.

1997: Using lung tissue taken 79 years earlier in an autopsy of a U.S. Army private who died of the 1918 flu, scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology analyze the virus and conclude that it is unique but related to swine flu.

2002: The Bulletin of the History of Medicine reports yet another revision in the estimate of 1918 flu deaths, to between 50 million and 100 million.

February 2004: Researchers at the Scripps Institute in California and at Britain's Medical Research Council discover that the 1918 virus may have jumped directly from birds to humans rather than from birds to pigs to humans. The 1918 strain was so deadly because the human immune system isn't prepared for viruses coming directly from birds.

October 2005: Using a technique called reverse genetics, scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology recreate the 1918 virus. They recovered the genome information from a flu victim who had been buried in the Alaskan permafrost since 1918.

Timeline sources: Dartmouth College Archives; twoop.com; assorted Dartmouth, DMS, and DHMC histories and historical documents; 1918 newspaper articles.

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